Interviewed by Meaghin Burke
Photographed by Joe Worthem
Teresa Adams has served as the director of Leap Frog for the past eight years. The after-school tutoring and mentoring program for first-, second- and third-graders was founded in the late 1980s at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and now serves 140 students four days a week. The program’s biggest fundraiser, the Firecracker Bash, is July 3 at the Lyric.
Q: Who attends Leap Frog?
A: On Mondays and Wednesdays we work with students from Lafayette County schools and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we work with students from Oxford city schools. The students are enrolled through their classroom teacher after being identified as at risk for falling behind academically.
Q: What’s a typical session like for the students?
A: First they get a snack, and then, for the first hour, the tutors help the students complete their homework. Then we focus on reading. We have books that are all color-coded for reading level. They can practice vocabulary, spelling or writing on a dry-erase board. After their lesson, we let them play or participate in an enrichment activity.
Q: What is Leap Frog’s success rate?
A: Last year, 14 percent of our students were on reading level at the start of the school year. By the end of the school year, we had 75 percent of our students on reading level, including 100 percent of our third-graders, which is huge.
Q: What kind of support does Leap Frog need?
A: We always need snack volunteers. Since Leap Frog happens four times a week at two locations, we need a lot of snacks. On our website, we have information on how to sign up. We always take monetary donations, of course, but it really helps when people email me and ask specifically what supplies we need because we have an abundance of some items, like paint, and a shortage of others.
Q: How many volunteers do you have?
A: We have 140 students each semester, so we need 140 tutors a semester. We also have 12 college students, through the university’s College Corps Program, who work as site managers.
Q: Besides volunteers and the Firecracker Bash, how are you funded?
A: Dickie Scruggs recently came through in a very big way for us. We had a large grant fall through late last year, and he came and met with us and offered generous financial support. Now we’re working to overlap his GED program with some of our Leap Frog parents, since there is some need there.
Q: What other future plans do you have for Leap Frog?
A: My dream is to have our own building. We’re using donated space, which is wonderful and deeply appreciated, but having our own space would keep us from having to unpack and pack up every day.
Purchase Firecracker Bash tickets ahead of time at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Oxford-University United Methodist Church or at the door on July 3. Visit theleapfrogprogram.org for more information.
Categories: Current Features